If you liked the Moscow Purges 1936-37, you’ll love the Paris Purges 2023!
On Sunday January 18th, the Journal du dimanche (JDD), a Paris weekly, published an op-ed by Vice-Admiral Patrick Chevallereau, a figure little known to the general public or even to most of the military, having spent much of his career cultivating Those Who Succeed, as President Macron once famously said.
Over in the USA, the Vice-Admiral’s latest foray into literature, coming on the heels of dozens of mainstream-press articles targetting alleged French Russophiles, would perhaps qualify as a journalistic hit piece, whilst in the Ukraine, readers might fear its targets end up on Myrotvorets (Myrotvorets’ IP address, we are told, is NATO HQ at Brussels—small world?). The novelty here is that Chevallereau is “squealing,” if that is the word, on his very own comrades in arms.
“BEWARE!” reads the JDD article’s header: “French army officers (ret.) strive to forward the Kremlin’s interests… Patrick Chevallereau is a senior fellow and Board Member of the Open Diplomacy Institute, and he raises the alarm on backing from high-ranking French military men (ret.) of the pro-Russian narrative concerning the war in the Ukraine.”
Thereupon Vice-Admiral Chevallereau painstakingly lists or rather blacklists, a number of his erstwhile comrades. Apart from one or two dullish traditionalists like General de la Chesnais, he hones in, as one would expect, on independent thinkers: the Centre Français de Recherche sur le Renseignement (CF2R), staffed and led by retired, top-ranking intelligence officers such as Éric Dénecé, Prof. Dr. Col. Caroline Galactéros of the War College, General Vincent Desportes, PhD, former head of the War College, Ayméric Chauprade.
Politically Chevallereau’s targets represent a grab-bag of views, ranging from the Rassemblement national, to the vaguely communistic left, to monarchists, to wildly anti-communist and to no politics at all. They do however have one thing in common: some such as Col. Moreau, who is on the Myrotvorets list, have frankly reported receiving death threats, while others have so implied.
How odd! Rather than threaten, would not those certain of a cause coolly debate an opponent—in public?
Anyway, Chevallereau’s piece is all very blood-curdling, and in short, just awfully scary. So, one rushes to check whether Russian tanks be massing on the Rhine, or Russian reconnaissance aircraft flying overhead. Nothing on mainstream news. Or Russia invading Martinique? Nothing, neither. Unsettling.
Back-track. Unless we have missed something, the last major armed confrontation between France and Russia occurred in 1854, when France leapt on board yet another British colonial expedition, namely the Crimean War. Despite that and France’s involvement with the White Armies during the Russian Civil War, she reopened diplomatic relations with the USSR in 1924. The terms of Prime Minister Herriot’s telegramme to the Soviet Executive’s President Kalinin on 28th October 1924 may be worth recalling:
“from now on, non-interference in domestic affairs will become the rule regulating the relationship between the two countries”. France acknowledges the Soviet Government “as the Government of the territory of the former Russian empire, wherever its rule be recognized by the population, and as successor to the previous Russian Governments.”
Over the past century, Franco-Russian relations have thus tended, in the main, to the cordial, including during the Cold War. In a nutshell, one is hard put to find a single, serious hostile act by Russia against France in recent history—on the contrary, she has been supplying the whole of Western Europe with cheap gas for over sixty years, and has been cooperating on fusion research and the space programme.
But nothing daunted neither, three days after the aforesaid JDD piece, on January 21st the Vice-Admiral, waving the “don’t bother me with the facts, my mind is made up” flag, popped up like a Jack-in-the-Box on the private television station BFM TV, again in squeal-mode.
Without a single source being cited save for “our sources” (sic), the BFM TV news clip went on to portray an alleged Russian “hybrid war” (new buzz word for Any Old Thing) hacker onslaught on Office national des anciens combattants (Army Veterans) software.
Then, unfurling a tendentious header in the form of a rhetorical question, to which to which BFM TV provided neither answer nor a shred of evidence, namely “Have the Russians contacted ex-French military men to turn them as agents of influence?” The clip purported to “name and shame” Col. Xavier Moreau, Colonel Alain Corvez, Lt. Col. J-M. Cadenas and Col. Jacques Hogard.
Apart from Colonel Moreau, a former Gendarme living in Russia who is baldly, blatantly and unashamedly pro-Russian—as though that were a crime—none of the others would seem to have any particular truck with any country except France, unless they be like everyone else, mad keen on Italy.
Annoying from the Vice-Admiral’s standpoint perhaps, is what most of these officers do have in common: intellectual and physical courage, and good standing in the armed forces.
Wisely enough, lest someone actually read it, both Vice-Admiral Chevallereau and the anonymous BFM TV editors refrained from mentioning an Open Letter to Jens Stoltenberg, intitled “Ward off the train wreck whilst there yet be time.” Published in the business monthly Capital on 11th March 2021, the Letter takes down the NATO 2030 strategic planning document stone by stone. Signed by Air Force General (ret.) Grégoire Diamantidis on behalf of the Cercle de Reflexion Inter-armées, reprinted in several languages and journals, it caused an absolute sensation, and concludes with these words:
“In strict accordance with the principles laid down half-a-century ago by General de Gaulle, France cannot, lest she fail gravely, engage in the hazardous adventure of conceding US control over Europe.”
Has France Declared War on Russia? Or, When Did that Happen?
Now, so far as we know, and despite France’s de facto role as co-belligerent through her arms shipments and financial support to the NATO armies masquerading as the “Ukraine,” she has never declared war on Russia, nor officially proclaimed Russia to be an enemy state.
(Notwithstanding the massive influence of Carl Schmitt on President Macron’s advisors: one need only peruse the President’s thoroughly bizarre New Year’s “Hybrid War” Greeting to the French armed forces, where the term “brutal” appears half-a-dozen times.)
Accordingly, one is at pains to grasp to what strategic end the Vice-Admiral has drawn up his black-list, unless it be a personal settling of accounts?
Be that as it may, the four reasons the Vice-Admiral suggests for his comrades’ alleged Russophilia reveal only his awe before the Hegemon’s altar:
1/ Russophilia in traditional French circles, Russia being seen as an ally in the struggle for civilisation
2/ the military’s penchant for discipline, turned to fascination with authority in Russia
3/ “wrongly-understood patriotism” (sic), and the “ideal of a sovereign France,” which to Chevallereau is a ghastly flaw, obstructing as he would have it “a powerful, united Europe and a strong transatlantic alliance.”
4/ and then (which had this subject of His Britannic Majesty falling about laughing) “these same officers may have come to anti-Atlanticism through their ignorance of NATO and perhaps, through frustration at finding themselves working within NATO without however, mastering the subtleties, the codes and sometimes not even the (English) language, the sine qua non to make oneself heard.”
Er, quite. As in the UK, a significant percentage of the French officer corps are either sons of the nobility or of the upper middle classes; some even favour monarchical restoration. For the rest, they are highly-educated, failing which they would unlikely have been promoted. To suggest that men from these rarefied circles might fail to grasp fashionable sous-entendres or irony, have no idea how to behave in public, or – shock, horror, disbelief—have poor table manners, simply reveals the Vice-Admiral for the bounder he is.
“Pitiful Thriver, in his Gazing Spent”
Straightaway, the piece had some of France’s foremost military men seething with anger, as one sees from this short item by General Dominique Delawarde. Given Chevallereau’s notorious Anglomania, Delawarde suggests that those who Live in Glass Houses were well advised Not to Throw Stones at purported “Russophiles” in the French armed forces; furthermore, he points to a recent, anonymous survey of rank-and-file military. On average, 80 to 90 % of the respondents want no part of a war against Russia, would be willing to demonstrate against such a war, and believe the Ukrainian conflict redounds solely to the profit of the USA.
Urge for a Purge?
So, what’s with the Vice-Admiral’s Urge for a Purge? Put otherwise, who pulls his string?
Although Chevallareau may put up front his role as a “fellow” of the Open Diplomacy Institute, that can scarcely be where the monkey sleeps.
Headed by Thomas Friang, amongst Emmanuel Macron’s perfervid, or opportunistic, supporters, the heretofore-unknown Open Diplomacy Institute is purportedly a non-profit society pushing the déjà-vu Climate Change etc. agenda; however, no up-front address appears on the site nor does one find a call for donations. Whether it might be yet another Soros-front is a moot point. As for the rest of the Open Diplomacy Fellows, the Usual Suspects: well-connected, smooth-talking graduates of the swanky Business Schools which liquidate a nation’s wealth at the stroke of a pen.
What advantage the Vice-Admiral might seek there remains unclear. Where his true advantage and allegiance lie is found elsewhere. Rather than mere Anglophilia, the watchword is Anglomania.
What Happens in a Great Purge?
What does a nation, what does the world lose, when an officer is shot or disappeared? Which is to say, what does it take, to become an officer?
Mastery of one or two light-fantastic disciplines faintly more complex than basket-weaving: geometry, physics, mathematics, ballistics, topography, geography, diplomacy, history and military history, geology, mechanics, electronics, IT, AI, logistics, psychology of men and war, tactics, inter-arms coordination plus the officer’s own particular specialty on air, sea or land… Kill off or disappear a few hundred officers and they just spring back by sowing dragon’s teeth, n’est-ce-pas?
Backtrack once more, to the Moscow Purges, 1936. US military historians themselves readily own that by the 1920s, the Russian officer corps had produced some of the most remarkable minds in the entire history of strategy. The best-known is Tukachevsky, but he was not alone: Frunze, Svechin, Triandifillov, Isserson and so on.
According even to bog-standard accounts, such as Wikipedia, during the 1936-37 Moscow purges “three of five marshals were shot, 13 of 15 army commanders… eight of nine admirals, 50 of 57 army corps commanders, 154 out of 186 division commanders, 16 of 16 army commissars, and 25 of 28 army corps commissars.”
In total, as many as 35,000 officers may have been shot or “lost” in exile. Had Josef Stalin—a psychopath who never should have come to head the Russian State—not conducted those purges, the German General Staff, well aware of the massed brain-power amongst the Russian officer corps, would scarcely have been so fool-hardy as to attempt Operation Barbarossa.
Like the loss of the entire German élite in the unsung German Resistance (of whom, an illustration here), which threw Germany to the wolves devouring her today, the loss of these Soviet officers was a loss to all mankind. Anyone who cares to use their noggin, will care to understand that.
Is that what Vice-Admiral Chevallereau and his Friends in High Places seek?
France is now virtually as corrupt as the Ukraine. Is she to become, thanks to Purges of the military intelligentsia, the next expendable battle-ground? Dr. Andrea Segatori’s clinical scrutiny of Emmanuel Macron’s psychopathology, in a filmed interview which has now been seen by several million viewers, should give us pause.
Now, were Chevallereau’s longed-for Great Purge to decimate the ranks of France’s military minds, who shall defend her? Emmanuel Macron’s cronies in McKinsey’s cushioned offices? Finnish PM Sanna Marin’s nightclub bouncers? Interior Minister Darmanin’s libertine-club doormen? We should be told.
Chevallereau, pitiful thriver—Beware what you wish for.
Mendelssohn Moses is a Paris-based writer.
Featured: In the NKVD’s Dungeon, by Nikolai Getman, ca. late 20th century.